The Benefits of Running Intervals on Treadmills

Treadmill intervals can keep you on track with your fitness goals.
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Treadmill running gets you off the road, out of the weather and into a safe, climate-controlled environment. But, too much of the same old treadmill routine can become a drudgery and can undermine your fitness goals. Shaking up your treadmill workouts with interval training will help eliminate boredom, improve your fitness and give you better weight-loss results.

About Intervals

    Typical treadmill workouts focus on time, distance or pace. Usually, the goal is to maintain your intensity at a low level that allows you to exercise for a long time without feeling distressed. These are called aerobic or cardio workouts. When running intervals on a treadmill, you will regularly interrupt your low-intensity pace with high-intensity bursts. Each high-intensity interval should get you moving at a pace that you could not maintain for very long. The low-intensity intervals allow you to recover and prepare for the next burst.


    While some people can put on their headphones and settle into a "zen" state while running on a treadmill, others find the activity to be boring. Keeping your exercise sessions interesting and fun can keep you from burning out and dropping out. Running intervals definitely breaks up the monotony. You can increase your intensity by speeding up, increasing the treadmill incline or by doing both. Try for three slow minutes followed by a fast minute. Work "hills" into your workout every few minutes by changing the incline. Be creative and make it challenging.


    A major advantage to interval training over traditional endurance training is that you may be able to achieve similar benefits in your health and performance in much less time. If you don't have 30 to 60 minutes for your treadmill workout, an interval session may be just the ticket. A 2011 study in the journal "Medical Science in Sports and Exercise" showed similar improvements in aerobic capacity, body composition and running performance in men and women who engaged in sprint intervals versus endurance running. The difference was that the interval workouts were about half as long as the endurance workouts.

Fat Loss

    Most of the people occupying the treadmills at a typical club are there to burn calories and lose weight. Unfortunately, according to researcher Stephen Boutcher, the low-intensity aerobic exercise that most are engaging in on the treadmills will have a negligible effect on fat loss. Instead, in his review article published in the "Journal of Obesity," Boutcher makes a case for high-intensity intermittent exercise. He states that this type of exercise may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise. Treadmill intervals are a great example of high-intensity intermittent exercise.

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